The ringing of the phone jarred my wife and I from a sound sleep. It was the husband of my wife’s best friend. “I need to talk to you,” he said. Somehow I just knew he had found out about my affair with his wife. I realized in that moment that life, as I knew it, was about to be over. The phone call blew the lid off a lifetime of adultery, deceit and denial.
My journey to full-blown sexual addiction was very unremarkable. I didn’t come from an abusive home, and there was no alcoholism or violence. My mother was a very loving and compassionate woman and my father was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known (and God has used that in him). But as I look back I do see a fatal flaw in our family that would set the stage for me to become a sex addict years later — detachment.
Because my father was disconnected from his alcoholic father, he was unable to deeply connect with me. In place of connection, my father and I related through achievement. I became the driven businessman that he was. Corporately I achieved a lot; relationally I achieved very little. I made up for this by pursuing bigger and bigger conquests in business. I also got houses, cars and “stuff”. This didn’t make the emptiness go away, however. So I sought to fill the void with other women.
After being introduced to Playboy at the age of fourteen I began to see women as one more conquest. In my family circle I felt affirmed for having girlfriends. Hungry for the validation this provided I sought to always have a girl on my arm. What I really needed were clear boundaries about how to treat women — I had none, so I began a pattern of using sex to meet all of my emotional needs. This continued over the years.
When I met my wife and got married I straightened out for a while. Not too long after that I graduated from college, got a job and got a house. In short order, my wife and I began pursuing the American dream. Our family was taking shape according to the model I had been given. Within a few years of marriage I began roving again. I would have a secret relationship with another woman for about a year and then move on to someone else. Naturally, my relationship with my wife was awful. She was the dutiful wife and homemaker who never complained, and I took advantage of her good nature.
To hear me tell it you would think I wasn’t a Christian. But the shameful thing is — I was. I was plugged in to my church and doing all of the “Christian” things. But I was unrelational with everyone, including God. I was good at following the rule and being a good boy (my sexual immorality notwithstanding), but my Christianity was impersonal and anemic. While involved with the Timothy Program I did have something of a breakthrough, but the core issues of my heart were untouched.
For eight years my life was a series of business deals, cabins, cars and women. In 1997 I got the phone call that brought down my house of cards. My sweet and gentle wife finally got some backbone and told me to leave. I had indeed hit bottom. When I poured the whole thing out to my pastor he recommended that I go to New Creation Ministries. I didn’t know what to expect when I met with Russell for the first time. My wife and I had been to other Christian counselors but they hadn’t presented Christ, and only pandered to my inborn selfishness.
NCM was different. After my first counseling session I felt as though I had some real answers. Best of all, I heard God saying to me that He was going to save me and raise me up from the ash-heap.
Getting involved in a group for sexually addicted men was a life-changing experience. The people I met there were brutally honest and we got right down to business. I could see God rebuilding their lives, which gave me hope for mine. I learned that my behavior was sinful, of course, but that it grew out of some legitimate unmet needs in my life. The teaching helped me with the “whys” and the support help drive it home.
The greatest revelation I’ve received is that Christ died and I died with Him. I probably heard this a dozen times in church, but it was through that it came home. I understood that dead men didn’t lust! This freed me to live for Jesus and for my wife (a big change for a life-long egoist!).
I know what it’s like to “have it all” and still feel hopeless. I know what it’s like to be in the church, to study the Bible and to be known in the Christian community, and still be far from God. I also know what it’s like to be loved by an indescribable Savior when I don’t deserve it, and to have your family and your faith and your future restored by a loving God. My goal in life is to be dead to sin and alive to Jesus. For me, this is not just a clever saying; it is making all the difference in the world.